Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Get Out Of My Head!
"WAR IS PEACE. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength."
Let's hope we have not reached George Orwell's "doublespeak" future depicted in his novel "1984" where the Ministry of Truth erects a giant pyramid enshrining those slogans.
But when President Bush says "stay the course" doesn't mean "stay the course," you have to start worrying about our national leadership's ability to redefine almost everything.
Wednesday Vacation Blogging: Leshan
(As always, click on the picture for a larger view.)
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Constantly Adjusting Tactics
Preznit Petulance is disavowing that, when he said "stay the course" over the past three-plus years, he really meant "stay the course." He didn't mean that at all, he says now. "Listen, we've never been stay the course, George," he told George Stephanopolous over the past weekend. Uh huh. I believe him. Because, I mean, after all, he's the President, and the President wouldn't just lie and prevaricate and make shit up, would he? That's the Vice President's job.
Continuing with an irregular series of letters I send to the editor of the SF Chronicle (which only rarely get published), here is my response to this bit of historical revisionism that may or may not show up in the next couple days in the Op-Ed section of the local paper:
The October 24th Chronicle headline announces that George Bush wishes to clarify the meaning behind his numerous pronouncements that the United States will "stay the course" in Iraq by saying that "stay the course" actually means "constantly adjusting the tactics."
I look forward to the coming weeks when Mr. Bush will also clarify a few other concepts that Americans may have misinterpreted. For instance, that War is actually Peace, that Freedom is, in fact, Slavery, and that Ignorance is Strength.
Actually, given what his administration has been able to accomplish in six years, he may be correct about that last one.
-- (Name withheld to protect me from being declared an enemy combatant)
A Little Joementum Blogging, Just For Old Times' Sake
It could be the most important one liner of the debate.
"You goddamned son of a bitch, how dare you accuse me of voting for the Energy Bill because I got a contribution."
Those were the words allegedly spoken by Joe Lieberman to Ned Lamont immediately after tonight's debate at the Garde Arts Center in New London. And although Lieberman cupped his hand over his mic, looking for all the world like he was taking the Pledge of Allegiance, his bitter remark was picked up on the audio feed, according to the report I heard. It didn't make the air (that had already been cut) but, if the report is accurate, WTNH should have the audio.
We shall see.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
After Pat’s Birthday
|Courtesy the Tillman Family|
Editor’s note: Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a powerful, must-read document.
It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.
Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.
Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.
Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.
Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.
Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.
Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.
Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.
Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.
Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.
Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.
Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.
Somehow torture is tolerated.
Somehow lying is tolerated.
Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.
Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.
Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.
Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.
Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.
Somehow this is tolerated.
Somehow nobody is accountable for this.
In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.
Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Come On, Have A Drink!
Anyhow, if you take BART to the Rockridge exit and stumble around for a block or so, you'll probably find us. For more specific directions and information, check out this post on the BARBARian site. Hope to see some new faces there, as well as lots of the usual suspects!
It's October, Do You Know Where Your Surprise Is?
There is a Naval task force headed to the Persian Gulf as I write this, and I have to wonder if Turd Blossom and his pals are really willing to sacrifice the men and women on one of those ships to ensure a Republican victory (and a long-desired war with Iran) next month. Are we all just misguided conspiracy theorists for thinking this? Is it still paranoia if they really are out to get you?
Buh-bye, due process of law. So long, habeas corpus. Adios, right to examine the evidence against you. Later, right to a speedy trial. It was nice knowing all of you.
Excuse me now, won't you? There are a couple men in dark suits at my door...
Monday, October 16, 2006
It Is SO, Like, Random Flickr Blogging Monday, Maaaaan
Thursday, October 12, 2006
2. There Is No Iraqi Army
5. Outside Baghdad, Violence Arrives with the Occupation Army
This is a well-informed and informative piece, and I urge you all to read the whole thing.
And for more on the Debacle in Iraq(le), check out Glenn Greenwald's take on the recently-released estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths since we began our campaign of shock and awe in that benighted nation.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
This country can't take two more years of cowboy diplomacy. Let's get the lying bastard and his whole cabal out of office NOW!
Wednesday Vacation Blogging: Paris Redux
Monday, October 09, 2006
yadnoM gniggolB rkcilF modnaR
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Punch Line In Search Of A Joke
Word Of The Day
Used in a sentence: "America has been suffering for nearly six years from unprecedented ignotism."
Maybe it's time to unretire that word, to bring it back from obsolescence.
Who is your Dead Celebrity Soulmate? Find out with this quick and easy quiz. Mine turned out to be, in order, Frida Kahlo, Eva Peron and Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria?!?!? Yikes!!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Where Do You Want To Go?
There are so many bells and whistles on this car I hardly know where to begin. It's like I'm now driving George Jetson's car. I can make the sound of the stereo move all over the inside, focusing on the front or back, driver's side or passenger side. There's a talking navigational system that tells me how to get virtually anywhere, and identifies local shops and restaurants and such. A readout on the dash screen (there's a dash screen!) tells me what my mileage per gallon is at any given moment, and what the average is. When I put the car in reverse, a camera on the underside of the back bumper shows me what's behind me. It starts with the push of a button -- no key turned, no gas pedal depressed, no choke -- and is virtually silent at low speeds. The mileage it gets is amazing, and is especially welcome in these days of arm and a leg pricing at the gas pump.
One thing that is taking some getting used to is that it is an automatic. In all my years of driving, since I was 15 and my mother handed me the keys to our '71 VW van and said, "Here, drive yourself to school, you'll learn," I've always driven a car with a standard transmission. The first car that I actually owned myself was a '52 Plymouth that my grandfather gave me when he could no longer drive it, and ever since, I've only had cars that required me to push in the clutch and shift gears manually. Driving the Prius, I occasionally find myself reaching for that non-existent stick shift, and my left leg is seriously atrophying from disuse.
But it handles really well, is quick and more than powerful enough for my needs. I've had no problems at all driving on even the steepest of San Francisco hills -- and I have to say that it's a lot easier negotiating some of the more vertiginous ones without having to play the game of holding the car almost in gear while trying not to slide backwards into the bay or popping the clutch and stalling out at the crest of a hill. And man, is it comfortable.
In the past, I've never been a fan of extended warranty options and that sort of thing, but with this car I made an exception. It's covered for seven years, and the regular servicing is included in the monthly payment. So I can take it to any Toyota dealer, anywhere, and get pretty much anything that might happen to be wrong with it fixed whenever I need to.
So that's my story, and I'm stuck with it. Happily!
Your Fascist State Begins In 5, 4, 3, 2...
Because while I'm more than happy to see Republican hypocrisy exposed and their morally bankrupt practices brought into the light of day, ultimately the harm done in the Foley scandal (despite the "What about the children™?!?" aspect of it) affects very few people, and will prove to be short-lived. The harm in tossing aside habeas corpus -- a concept embraced as law ever since the Magna Carta was signed in 1215 -- and concentrating power in the hands of a unitary executive -- especially one as malevolent and vindictive as this one is -- is so much further-reaching, and has the potential to affect each and every one of us for years to come. This is a shameful and obscene -- not to mention patently unconstitutional -- piece of legislation that should have been opposed by every Congressperson with even half a brain and a sense of justice and history. Unfortunately, as could have been predicted, the rubber-stamp Republicans fell all over each other in their eagerness to hand their president the power to imprison and torture their constituents at will; what's worse is that a number of Democrats, apparently fearing that they would otherwise be subject to charges of being "soft on terrorism," joined them in voting for this abomination.
We are all on the slipperiest of slopes right now, and the America that you and I learned about as we were growing up is rapidly disappearing. As may any one of us that the president decides is an "enemy combatant" once his power grab is complete. See you at Gitmo, kids.
Wednesday Vacation Blogging: Paris
I've been thinking about Paris a lot lately. My friends Chris and Dana are there right now, and my good friend Scott just recently returned from one of his many visits to that city. Mrs. Generik and I were there for a week in June, 2005, and between the two of us took over a thousand photographs of what I thought then was the most beautiful city I'd ever seen. (I've since decided that Prague edges Paris out in that department, but not by much.)
Just as we did in Prague, we rented an apartment for our time there, rather than staying in a hotel. The advantage to doing this was that we got much more space and privacy for our money, including a full kitchen and dining room, and we had a washer and dryer in the apartment, which came in very handy in the middle of a six-week trip. We also, I believe, experienced Paris in a manner closer to the way people who live there do than the average tourist.
Because we have so many pictures, this post is just part one of two. Even with the number of pictures we took, and all the walking and sightseeing we did, we barely scratched the surface of this incredible city. There are dozens of sights that we didn't get to see, unfortunately -- which only means that we must return. Soon, I hope!
(As always, click on the pictures for a larger view. Part II coming soon!)